Weird Kitties is an organized anti-slate with a simple goal: to try to make sure every work on the 2016 Hugo ballot is there because of fans who nominated it because they liked it, and not because some bigoted jerk told them to nominate it.
This isn’t going to be easy. We already know Vox Day has 540 nominations for anything he wants to put on the ballot. John C. Wright’s got a novella out. SJWs Always Lie will surely be up for Best Related Work. And I’m sure a little thing like forgetting the existence of the number four isn’t going to keep the Voice of God from proclaiming himself best editor again. Given this, George R.R. Martin’s advice to ignore Vox Day is not going to accomplish anything other than letting a fascist jerk set the ballot. Again.
In practical terms, anything that the majority of Hugo voters might actually prefer to No Award is going to need at least 541 nominations to be on the ballot. And that’s not going to be easy bar for anything to clear, especially not without sinking to the ugly and bullying tactic of slates.
The good news is that there are five thousand of us, united, if nothing else, by the facts that 1) We voted in the Hugos, and 2) We are not Puppies of any stripe. We are not a campaign. We are not a political movement. We are not playing some elaborate game of four-dimensional chess in order to topple Christendom. Indeed we, in the sense of “me and everyone reading this,” are not even all five thousand voters. But nevertheless, we are a bunch of fans defined by the simple fact that we’re eligible to nominate things for Hugos next year, and we’re not Vox Day’s pack of rabid dogs.
One of the most helpful things, then, would be if all five thousand of us nominated, and if we nominated a full ballot. Among us, we’ve got 25,000 open slots on our ballots in every category with which to push a work over the slate-busting threshold of 541. That’s doable, but it’s also hard. A lot of us, myself included, don’t identify five eligible Hugo-worthy items in every category in a normal year’s reading. In many categories, a lot of us don’t identify one. We don’t all have writing Winds of Winter to be distracted from, after all. And we could use some help.
So I’m creating Weird Kitties for exactly that. It’s going to be an ongoing conversation about awesome science fiction and fantasy that’s come out and is coming out in 2015, conducted for people who want to fill in their Hugo ballots with things they love.
First off, some promises. Weird Kitties is not and never will be a slate. It will never be some sort of stealth “slate by another name.” It will never have an official list of suggestions, of recommendations, or of anything else like that. It’s also not going to just reflect my taste, although I’ll obviously be contributing to it. At every step of the way, I will include as many interesting and exciting voices about science fiction in 2015 as I can get. If you intend to fill out your Hugo ballot with things you choose instead of things someone else chose for you, your voice is welcome here.
For now, it’s going to focus on two things. First, I’m going to make a series of open threads over the next few weeks for the various categories, and just ask people for suggestions of works to check out in those categories. Second, I’m soliciting positive reviews of Hugo-eligible work from anyone interested in writing them, subject to the rules below. And to be clear, I mean anyone. I mean you. Yes, you. Write reviews of Hugo-eligible work you loved and send them to me.
When we get to December or so, I’ll start tracking the many “Year’s Best SF/F” threads and posts that I’m sure will be popping up, trying to handicap what some of the natural frontrunners are. And finally, when we get into 2016, I’ll be running annotated nomination ballots from as many interesting people as I can find, and I intend to go looking for some very interesting people. The result will be your ongoing guide to what was interesting in science fiction and fantasy in 2015.
So basically, pull up a chair and join us. We’re going to be geeking out about science fiction for a while. And we’d really love to do it with you. The first open thread will be on Saturday, discussing potential Best Novel candidates, so please stop by and chip in.
Rules for Reviews
Reviews can be any length. I’ll compile short ones into occasional omnibus posts, and run longer ones as stand-alone posts, along with knocking up a central list to index them all. Send them to snowspinner at gmail. Please make sure to include the title, author, eligible category, and a link to a legal way to obtain it.
First, again, positive reviews. The point is to help people find work that they’ll love. Negative reviews, by definition, don’t do that.
Second, no reviews about anything you have substantial creative involvement in or stand to make a profit off of. This does not mean things you backed on Kickstarter, for heaven’s sake. If you didn’t make it and don’t stand to make money off it, review away. Honor system on this, and if you have reason to believe I’ve run something sent in against this rule, please let me know.
Third, and relatedly, no reviews about anything that I have substantial creative involvement in or stand to make a profit off of. Nothing from Eruditorum Press, nothing out of Pex Lives, nothing I’ve contributed to. I will not use the Weird Kitties banner to self-promote in any way.
Fourthly, nothing from Castalia House. I just won’t.
Finally, at the end of the day, I remain the sole arbiter of what goes on my webspace. I’m not going to just run reviews of things I like, or even of things that I think sound good. I’m actively interested in reviews I disagree with; I can write the ones I agree with myself, after all. But in the end, it’s my judgment call whether I run a review. My main criterion is simple: do I think this review will persuade someone to check out a work and go on to nominate it for a Hugo. But there are secondary ones - if I’ve already published a review of something, the odds drop that I’ll do a second one. Similarly if it’s an author we’ve already got covered pretty well. I'm sure pretty much every story in China Miéville's new collection is plausibly Hugo-worthy, but I'm not going to run a review on every one. And, as the Castalia House exclusion suggests, there are some views and positions I’m not willing to use my voice and my platform to support. If, you don’t think you can be a grownup about having a review rejected, don’t send one.
Why you? You’re some nobody blogger.
Because I want the resource to exist, mainly. I want to fill out a full nomination ballot. I don’t imagine I’m alone in that. And I think there’s a lot of fans who haven’t been regular Hugo voters before but who care about protecting the awards who could use a resource like this. And that’s also kind of why me. Because I am a small-time blogger and fan, and nobody can accuse me of carrying water for John Scalzi or Patrick Nielsen Hayden or whoever, since I’ve never so much as had a conversation with any of them.
You’re just doing this on behalf of the SMOFs.
Nope. As I said, I don’t know any of them. Never been to a Worldcon, never been active in organized fandom. Pretty sure my best claim to being a SMOF is that Paul Cornell said some nice things about my Doctor Who blog once.
You’re just doing this to sell books/increase your Patreon.
I mean, I’m certainly aware that this might bring new readers to the site who could stick around for some of the other content and become fans. But I’m not going to directly profit from any of the Weird Kitties stuff, I’m not going to self-promote under the Weird Kitties banner, and frankly, I’d make a lot more money if I spent the time this is going to take editing my next book.
You’re just doing this to advance your anarchic postmodern Marxist occultist agenda.
Well, yes, at least inasmuch as one of the reasons I care about the Hugo Awards is that I don’t want to see them hijacked by a neoreactionary creep like Vox Day. That said, I’m happy to run reviews of conservative-minded stuff, and if you point me towards conservative-minded stuff that’s good and interesting, I’ll even review it myself. Indeed, I’d really like it if some people who were previously sympathetic to the Puppies jumped ship and wrote some reviews here to try to promote conservative-minded sci-fi without being dicks about it. I’m a leftist, but other than being overtly opposed to the specific politics of Vox Day, this is not a consciously leftist movement. If you’re someone who wants to nominate work you choose instead of work chosen for you, welcome aboard.
So I can send you a review about how you should nominate “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken” because of how awesome Sansa getting raped is?
But you said
OK, but seriously, surely the last thing fandom needs is another animal-based Hugos campaign.
I suspect the genie is already out of the bottle on that. And more to the point… Well, two things. First, I think we need an organized effort to resist the Puppies, because otherwise their slate tactics are going to win. But second, I want to show that it’s possible to be organized and diverse at the same time. I want to show that Vox’s ugly and bullying tactics can be defeated cleanly, even without E Pluribus Hugo (which I strongly support, and will continue to support regardless of how this effort turns out). I want to show that he’s not better than us, and that we can beat him fair and square, without compromising our values. I don’t just want to win, I want to show that a bunch of fans voting for what they love can beat a couple hundred goose-stepping jerks.
Why “Weird Kitties”?
Well, the Kitties are the obvious choice. I mean, whoever decided to make the first conscious anti-Puppy organizing group was always going to call it the Kitties. As for “weird…” because it’s a word with so much meaning within SF/F. Not just the “weird fiction” tradition of H.P. Lovecraft and China Mieville, but the idea that science fiction and fantasy should be about strange new things, as opposed to trying to rehash a vision of the past that’s more nostalgia than history. That and the fact that Vox Day’s new book, SJWs Always Lie, makes much of contrasting Hugo voters with “normal” people. If Vox Day is normal, I sure as hell wanna be weird.
What can I do?
Participate. Watch the open threads and mention good things you’ve read. Write reviews. And more importantly, read the threads, read the reviews, and check out things that sound cool. Try to inform yourself about science fiction and fantasy that came out in 2015, and then, when 2016 rolls around, fill in a full ballot’s worth of nominations.